Sydney Film Festival 2014 - Calvary

The Australian premiere of John Michael McDonagh's latest film, Calvary, was a special presentation at the Sydney Film Festival on Thursday 5 June at the State Theatre. This acerbic black comedy was well received by the crowded audience. This is McDonagh's second film as a writer and director and second film with lead actor Brendan Gleeson. Like his debut, The Guard, Calvary comments on present day Ireland and the Catholic Church with sharp observations and clever dialogue.  McDonagh said that the premise of the movie was to have a good priest (Brendan Gleeson) at the centre of a story. A good priest in a small picturesque village in Ireland, surrounded by people who are not that nice. A good priest in Ireland is not something that comes to mind immediately after scandals such as this one in 2009 that have rocked the country in recent years. McDonagh confronts this raw scar in the opening dialogue of the movie and weaves this confronting and damaging history throughout a seemingly gentle and whimsical movie.  This contradiction of tone and content may not work for everyone, however, I think McDonagh walks right up to the line of hitting the point too on the head with dialogue by having such fine actors delivering wonderful performances that delve below the stereotype, cliche or jumble of ticks. I liked it, I liked the beauty and charm of this quiet movie with sharp punctuations. It is well worth seeing.